He's taking inspiration not only from the advances in computer and mobile technology since he made Populous in 1989, but from the wealth of designers that have made similar games since then. Molyneux's not above saying he takes concepts he sees in other games and adapts them for his new projects. "That's what designers do. Any designer that says they don't is lying," he said. "We are thieves, we steal and we adapt and we put in." Specifically for Godus he's looking at a few recent games that experimented with the god game genre. "There's a title called From Dust which I thought had some fantastic visual effects. There's a little mechanic out of Minecraft that I'm definitely going to be interested in stealing but I don't mind too much because I know that [Notch] stole stuff from Dungeon Keeper."
Beyond mechanics, Markus Persson might have been the impetus for Molyneux to leave Microsoft in the first place. "When I saw people like Markus Person from Mojang, what he did, and I saw the reaction from publishers and Microsoft [who said] 'Oh, Minecraft, a lot of rubbish, it's so blocky and doesn't have the achievements, doesn't have a tutorial.' And I kept saying to myself, 'That is what the future is, what he's doing is what the future is,'" he said.
The spirit of youthful creativity which Mojang seems to embody might have been what inspired Molyneux to ditch his corporate job to start up a new company, but there's something more at stake. It's possible to become stifled in your day-to-day routine, even if that's making games like Fable, and Molyneux started to feel that he wasn't pushing himself, wasn't taking risks. The safety net of producing regular releases of first person shooters and platformers might sound appealing at first, at least to the shareholders, but he said he's never felt more alive than he does at 22cans.
"The choice of me leaving Microsoft was a tough one, it was tough to leave my friends and the people I respect at Microsoft," he said. "But it was going to happen. It's like I'm like a moth to the flame. Once you show me the flame, what is possible out there, me shouting at my friends saying, 'Why are these experiences so fucking awful?'" He had to make a change.
For him, the publisher model was just about saying, "We're just going to do those formats and genres over and over again. There's nothing wrong with that by the way, I love Call of Duty. Black Ops 2 is the best first person shooter I've played hands down," Molyneux admitted. "But it's got to be more and if I'm true to myself, if I'm true to what I'm capable of - bringing people together and focusing on one vision - then I have to be brave. It's an insane thing to do."
Yes, it is. But I'm right there with you, man.